Newly acquired New York Giant Devonta Freeman is looking to prove he can still be a productive running back in this league.
With Saquon Barkley out for the season with a torn ACL in his right knee, general manager Dave Gettleman knew he had to acquire a veteran running back to work alongside Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman.
Gettleman thus found his man in Devonta Freeman and signed him to a one-year, $3 million contract this week.
The versatile Freeman was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth round (No. 103 overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft. He’s rushed for 3,972 yards on 951 carries with 32 rushing touchdowns and has also caught 257 passes for 2,015 yards and 11 touchdowns through the air.
The 28-year-old Freeman was named to the Pro Bowl in both 2015 and 2016 and was a second-team AP All-Pro selection in the former campaign.
But last year, he averaged a career-low 3.6 yards per carry. He was then cut by the Falcons, with many beginning to question how much he had left in the tank.
Despite not participating with any team in training camp, Freeman still feels confident in his abilities. On Thursday, he spoke with the media for the first time since signing with the Giants and was asked how much he believes he has left.
“Football really doesn’t go anywhere. You just get older,” he said. “I feel like it’s all up to you, the way you take care of your body, the way you keep maintenance on your body. You can be as young as you want to be. I’ve seen guys do it and be around this league for a very long time. I’ve studied them, watched how they take care of their bodies. That’s the same with me. I’m just copying those guys and adding to my game and to my body and how I can get better.”
Despite the fact that Freeman has taken care of his body, working out doesn’t replicate playing in an actual game. It seems as if there’s a chance Freeman will participate this Sunday against the 49ers, but it’s uncertain how many snaps he’ll play.
Freeman was asked where he stands physically, pertaining to the difference in being in workout shape and football shape.
“All that stuff that these guys have been through in camp is definitely a different type of shape than I’ve trained my body to be in,” he said. “I know that I’m in shape and just have to continue to get in game shape and practice shape. Keep climbing and keep getting better. It’s definitely a difference. I’m also working towards that, to get my body in the best condition I can be in.”
The Giants are hopeful that Freeman can get into football shape quickly to give their rushing game a boost. Big Blue is currently last in the NFL in rushing at just 52 yards per game. Quarterback Daniel Jones leads the team with 43 rushing yards.
New York will look to get its ground game on track against a 49ers defense that’s allowing 142 rushing yards per game and has lost two of its best players for the season in Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas. The belief is that Freeman and the rest of the Giants running backs should be able to take advantage of this.
If Freeman can resemble his Pro Bowl form and show that he’s still a productive back, he’ll be able to help the Giants ground game finally get on track this season.
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